Leslie M. Gomez is a partner in the Education Counseling, Litigation and Investigation Services and White Collar Litigation and Investigations Groups of Pepper Hamilton LLP, resident in the Philadelphia office. Ms. Gomez is co-chair of the firm’s Child Advocacy Practice Group.
Ms. Gomez focuses her practice on the institutional response to sexual misconduct. She provides consulting, counseling and legal advice on all issues related to sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual and gender-based harassment. Ms. Gomez helps institutions develop comprehensive sexual misconduct policies, procedures, systems and training programs in compliance with Title IX, the Department of Education’s April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, the Clery Act, the Campus SaVE Act and state and local laws.
Ms. Gomez has nearly two decades of experience investigating sex crimes, child abuse, domestic violence and stalking, first as a career child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault prosecutor, and later as counsel to colleges, universities, K-12 schools and other institutions. Ms. Gomez directs internal investigations, coordinates communications and interactions with law enforcement, assists in the design and implementation of disciplinary proceedings, and provides advice about the interplay between civil and criminal proceedings. She has led numerous highly complex investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct at educational and religious institutions.
Ms. Gomez is a nationally recognized expert in child abuse and child protection, including the dynamics of child abuse, child protective services laws and the coordination of investigations with child protective services and local, state and federal law enforcement. She serves as an expert on the stalking subcommittee of the U.S. Department of Education’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee for the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (Campus SaVE Act).
Before joining Pepper, Ms. Gomez was of counsel with Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia. Before that, she served as an assistant district attorney at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for 14 years. She handled complex child abuse, kidnapping, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault cases for more than 11 years. She regularly prosecuted cases involving very young and especially vulnerable children, children with special needs or disabilities, and children who were long-term victims of incest or child abuse. Ms. Gomez also focused on serial pedophiles and repeat sexual offenders.
Ms. Gomez served as the chief of the Juvenile Court Unit at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. There she was involved in every aspect of investigation and charging decisions in cases of alleged sexual and domestic violence against minor victims for both juvenile and adult offenders. For more than five years, Ms. Gomez oversaw charging decisions and served as a liaison with the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance and local hospitals with respect to the investigation and prosecution of all new allegations of child abuses in Philadelphia County.
As the senior prosecutor for child abuse and sex crimes litigation in the Juvenile Division, Ms. Gomez directly supervised and mentored more than 100 young prosecutors. She instructed them on pre-trial investigation, case preparation, trial strategy, ethical issues, and the unique dynamics of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, child abuse and stalking. She authored numerous training materials and template briefs that serve as the core of the District Attorney’s training program and continue to be utilized by the District Attorney’s Office. She has a firm grasp of policy and law with respect to competency, taint, prior bad acts, other crimes evidence, tender years hearsay exceptions, rape shield, physical and medical findings of abuse, forensic issues, alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, non-stranger sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking.
Ms. Gomez has presented at annual CLE conferences through the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and in the community on topics such as Pre-Trial Preparation; Litigating Pre-Trial Motions; The Child Witness; Crime Through the Eyes of a Child; Tender Years; Other Crimes Evidence; Special Needs Witnesses; Handling the Sexual Assault Case; An Investigator’s Approach to Children; Testifying in Court: Demystifying the Experience; Building the Credibility Case; Child and Adolescent Witnesses: Special Considerations in the Law; Focusing on Direct Examination; Collateral Consequences of Juvenile Adjudication; The Law on Sexual Offenses; Understanding the Law on Child Abuse; and The Philadelphia Experience with Flash Mobs.
Ms. Gomez serves as a volunteer child advocate attorney for the Support Center for Child Advocates. She has conducted community outreach and multidisciplinary training for the Department of Human Services, Women Against Abuse, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, the Philadelphia City Solicitor’s Office, the Support Center for Child Advocates, the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and local colleges and universities. She also was instrumental in obtaining grant monies to allow tender-age victims to testify outside the presence of the defendant via videoconferencing equipment, and in developing the protocol for the use of this technology in the Philadelphia courts.
Ms. Gomez has served as a mentor for second-year law students through the Temple Summer Professional Experience Curriculum and as a faculty member (provisional) for ChildFirst Pennsylvania, a statewide forensic interview training initiative through the National Child Protection Training Center. She was an instructor for the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges (2011), Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Institute Juvenile Justice Conference (2011), Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (2001-11), Pennsylvania Bar Institute (2009) and National Black Prosecutor’s Association (2005).
Ms. Gomez received the Distinguished Advocate Award from the Support Center for Child Advocates in 2010. She was the Apple Fest Honoree of St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children in 2009 and recipient of the Team Excellence Award from the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance in 2008.
Ms. Gomez is a member of the boards of the Center City Crime Victims Services and the Joseph J. Peters Institute, a nonprofit providing outpatient assessment and treatment in the area of sexual abuse. She is a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation.